A Massachusetts jury awarded just under $30 million this month to a now-eleven-year-old girl who suffered a devastating brain injury in utero. In September of 2004, the girl’s mother presented to the hospital while 28 weeks pregnant complaining of decreased fetal movement. She was admitted for monitoring at 11:00 p.m. on September 5th and, until 5:30 p.m. on September 6th, everything was fine.
Soon after, however, the baby’s heart rate dropped dramatically. The on-call attending physician – who was at home at the time – was called but decided not to come to the hospital. The child’s attorneys argued that this was an emergency and that the child needed to be delivered by emergency cesarean section immediately. Unfortunately, that did not happen in a timely manner. At approximately 9:20 p.m., the baby’s heart rate dropped so low that her brain was deprived of sufficient oxygen for at least eight minutes. The lawyers presented evidence that when the baby finally was delivered by cesarean section, she essentially was not alive and had to be resuscitated.
As the result of the brain injury, the child does not walk or talk, is blind and has to be fed through a gastric (feeding) tube. She also has a tracheotomy to assist with breathing which must be suctioned several times per hour. The jury’s verdict was comprised, in part, of $1.04 million for past medical bills, $16.1 million for future medical and other care needs, $1.25 million for lost earning capacity and $11.5 million for past and future physical and mental pain and suffering, disfigurement, embarrassment, anxiety, loss of enjoyment of life, etc.